Important: Students should not restrict their search for a supervisor to those listed below. Use other sources of information on research groups to find out about possible supervisors. Most UROP research experiences are obtained with staff who do not advertise their availability. However, please also take note of the list of non-participating staff.

UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences
UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences
Title of UROP Opportunity (Research Experience) & DetailsExperience required (if any)Contact Details and any further Information
Gene Regulation: Study the molecular biology of gene regulation at the level of RNA polymorase activity, in particular protein-protein interactions that control transcription initiation.  Molecular biology and biochemistry background

Professor Martin Buck, Integrative Cell Biology, Dept of Life Sciences, Room 448, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 020 7594 5442 Email: 

Forest mycorrhizal ecology: This project aims to assess mycorrhizas and their environmental drivers in forest biomonitoring stands across Europe. Other projects on the ecology and/or evolution of plant-fungal interactions may be available.  

Dr Martin Bidartondo, Project will be based externally at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Dept of Life Sciences has academic staff permanently based at Kew.


Magnetism: We offer a variety of projects which vary from year to year based in the area of magnetism. The work usually involves using cryogenics and training on large commercial pieces of apparatus such as magnetometers or electrical transport rigs.

Preferably good experimental skills which means competence with software programs and confidence with handling experimental apparatus. Some of the experimental work is quite detailed. The work may also involve processing and analysis of data.

Professor Lesley Cohen, Experimental & Solid State Physics, Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, 912 Blackett Laboratory, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 020 7594 7598 Email:

Second and third year students only.

Summer vacation only


Design of a Novel Neutrino Detector: Neutrino physicists are already measuring physics beyond the Standard Model, whilst the LHC searches for supersymmetry and extra dimensions.

The discovery of neutrino mass and flavour oscillation is the first confirmed observation of physics beyond the Standard Model [1,2]. The next generation of experiments will perform highly sensitive searches for violation of charge-parity (CP) symmetry with neutrinos [3,4]. CP symmetry means that the laws of nature s hould be the same for antimatter seen through a mirror as they are for normal matter. This symmetry is known to be violated by quarks, but at a very small level. If neutrinos violate CP symmetry at a large level, this could explain why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter!

One of the requirements for the success of future experiments is improved understanding of the interactions of neutrinos and antineutrinos with nuclei [5]. This project is to design a new type of detector, comprising a high-pressure gas time-projection-chamber (HPTPC) [6], to make the necessary measurements.

Imperial College is involved in the proposed Hyper-Kamiokande neutrino experiment in Japan [4], which will be the most precise accelerator neutrino oscillation experiment with world-leading sensitivity to νe appearance and νμ disappearance. We are specifically involved in the efforts to design a new near detector capable of measuring neutrino-nucleus interactions with 1% systematic uncertainty.

This project will involve computational work to develop a Monte Carlo simulation of an HPTPC detector, with the goal of optimising the design for neutrino oscillation measurements. The student will learn to use the ROOT and GEANT4 software packages (both use C++) which are standard tools for high energy physics. The end goal of the project is a conceptual detector design suitable for submission to a national lab or funding body.

An open mind and willingness to tackle difficult problems is required. Experience with C++ coding is useful

Dr Morgan Wascko, Dept of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Blackett Laboratory, Room 525, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 0207 594 1607. Email:

Theory and Simulation of Materials

The Theory and Simulation of Materials Centre for Doctoral Training is offering a number of UROP projects this summer in areas across Physics, Materials and Engineering.


For more information on the projects and details of how to apply please visit our website:

Numerical packing of cubes with application to breakwaters with concrete cube units: AMCG has a powerful FEMDEM code, see that has been used now in 3D and in published research on (i) coastal defence structures where concrete units are packed into layers and (ii) industrial catalyst pellets. In (ii) we have achieved packing density results that compare closely with experimental packs that have been analysed with X-ray micro-computer tomography. Cubes are unusual in that they have the potential to pack with zero porosity if there is zero friction i.e. brick-like filling. We wish to explore the effect of friction coefficient on the packing density of cubes, the randomness of pack orientation and investigate the influence of rectilinear container boundaries. Cubes seem ideal also because we can use experimental and photographic data of carefully performed wooden cube packing experiments (Latham and Munjiza, 2004) Moving on to an important application, cubes are the most popular breakwater unit in Northern Spain and many places in the world. It would be very interesting to simulate packing of a randomly oriented double layer of 100 tonne cubes at full scale, placed on a sloping underlayer of rocks using regular grid spacing as used by crane operators.

Skills and experience required: Willingness to learn numerical simulation such as shown on and a grounding and curiosity regarding mechanics and granular interactions.

Contact: Dr John-Paul Latham, Room 4.97, Dept of Earth Science and Engineering, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 0207 594 7327

Available in the Imperial College summer vacation (2017) only (July-September period). Dates are negotiable.

The student will be able to examine similar results achieved with the packing code and will be trained and then supported by a team that includes two PhD students, one devoted to our coastal structure research with rock-like and unusual concrete shapes.

We envisage an important outcome within 8 to 12 weeks culminating in a poster and some movie outputs, all leading towards a publication.


Added: 24 March, 2017

Developing Interactive Visualisations for Education:

Background - This funded UROP project is an exciting opportunity to help realise one of the programmes funded by the College’s Excellence Fund in Learning and Teaching Innovation.

From June through September 2017 we aim to develop a suite of interactive visualisations for education. These visualisations will be designed to enhance understanding of abstract concepts and fall within the broad subject areas of Maths, Core Physics, and Modern Physics.

UROP description: The duration of the UROP placement will be 5 to 10 weeks over the summer break. During this time, you will work as part of a team of UROP students to undertake the programming of the visualisations in Python and Jupyter Notebooks. Within the team you will closely work with one or more other students on your particular subject area, under supervision of a member of staff of the Physics department.

There are two main stages to the project:

(1) Finding / developing suitable modules and packages for use in the creation of visualisations. If you are involved in this stage your main work will be to create the ‘core tools’ for the visualisations, i.e. packages that are compatible with Jupyter Notebooks and allow for the creation of stand-alone graphic, interactive web apps.

This stage is particularly suitable to Computer Science students or others with significant experience in Python programming and a knack for independent searching and evaluation of Python packages. We aim to employ students for this phase as early as possible (ideally June) to facilitate the implementation of stage (2).

(2) Creating visualisations in Maths / Core Physics / Modern Physics, using the ‘core tools’ identified in stage (1). You will work to realise and improve the designs that academics will have created, and probably help expand the ‘core tools’ library. This stage is best suited to students from the Maths and Physics department or others with a good conceptual understanding of vectors, vector calculus, differential equations, and/or Electromagnetism and other Physics courses, and who are competent Python programmers.


Skills and experience required by the ideal participant:

  • Essential: enthusiasm to create tools for education; competent in Python programming; ability to work and code independently; willingness to work collaboratively as part of a team.
  • Desirable: experience with Jupyter notebooks; experience with interactive and / or graphic Python modules; affinity with graphic design.

When: June to September 2017, with possible placements in term-time 2017-2018 and second placements during the summer break in 2018.

How to apply: If you are interested in participating in this project, please email Dr Caroline Clewley at, with the key word ‘UROP’ in the subject line. In your email, indicate your background and which stage of the project would suit you best. If you have any examples of relevant previous work, appending them as attachments or web links will be very helpful. Please also attach a short CV with relevant skills and experience, as well as a list of modules and marks obtained so far. This will help us put together a team with complementary skills.

We will review all applications over the Easter break and contact you at the beginning of term 3.

Contact details: Dr Caroline Clewley, Room 318, Blackett Laboratory, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 020759 45239. Email:

UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences